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Not nearly as bad as haters are making it out to be!
The reviews for this film seem to be pretty negative generally speaking. Pivoting around the historical inaccuracies and the addition of the "Half Breed" character played by Keanu Reeves to this legendary tail. More on that further in.
In a nut shell. 47 Ronin has a fair amount of mystical magic and demons peppered throughout a historical tail. A tale of Samurai who's master is killed and their status is reduced to Ronin. Only for them to rise up and seek revenge against the evil ruler and his witch who are responsible.
Let's get to some positive stuff. Visually the 47 Ronin is beautiful. The costumes design and color choices to separate each of the different clans is impressive in it's complexity. The villains are not just dressed in black, but a fair amount of purple and silver is mixed in to highlight the details in their armor. The sets have an epic feel that is grounded and doesn't feel to fantastic, but rather believable.
Now on to the "Half Breed", who mainly adds the taste of a forbidden love story as well as a lifeline to the audience, drowning is a sea of unfamiliar faces. Many, if not most reviewers who've pan this movie for the addition of the "half breed" character fail to realize his importance for the audience. Around the start of the third act, there's a scene where one of the samurai apologies for his treatment of the half breed in a way that communicates to the viewer exactly where a Ronin places in the Japanese cultural/social structure vs where a Samurai does. The inclusion of this character and his treatment throughout the movie is an important plot device. Seeing his treatment by the Samurai as an outcast in the first act, then later his acceptance once they are labeled as Ronin is vital to the evolution of the main Japaneses characters of the story. Not to mention it helps to bridge a gap for an audience unfamiliar with Japanese cultural and social structure.
Historical inaccuracy are common in Hollywood. I personally view the ones in 47 Ronin to be no more reprehensible then the ones committed in superheroes films. Yes, I am comparing changes made to characters from Batman, X-Men, Spiderman and Iron Man's cannon to this historical tale of the 47 Ronin. Deal with it, they're just stories after all. We really have no way to know it there really wasn't a half breed character, do we? After all, history is told by the winners, and often inaccurately.
With a 2 hour run time, it did feel a bit slow to start, setting the stage for the second and third act. Once it gets going tho, it moved rather nicely. I didn't find myself checking my watch every 10 minutes wondering when it would end like another holiday release I won't mention. If the trailer interests you then you could probably do worst at the box office this holiday season. I enjoyed it, but that's just my opinion.
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